David Phelps brings Christmas tour to Village Baptist Church

16David Phelps 1 The holiday season will come alive with the unmistakable sound of multi-Dove and Grammy Awardwinning recording artist David Phelps when he visits Fayetteville’s Village Baptist Church on Saturday, Dec. 1. WCLN-FM is proud to present this exciting Christmas concert event – one of just 15 stops on Phelps’ December “It Must Be Christmas 20th Anniversary Tour.” This special musical evening begins at 7 p.m.

Once a childhood musical prodigy from Tomball, Texas, Phelps earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Baylor University. Since then, he has become a nationally celebrated vocalist.

Perhaps best known as the powerful tenor for the multiple Grammy and Dove Award-winning Gaither Vocal Band, Phelps is constantly building on a career that has already been groundbreaking. Emerging as a leading voice in contemporary Christian music, Phelps has been winning the hearts of audiences all over the world for more than two decades.

He has performed at numerous prestigious venues across the globe, including the White House, New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House in Australia. His electrifying voice has moved audiences from all walks of life, crossing generational and stylistic barriers.

Phelps has visited Fayetteville before as a soloist and as part of the Gaither Vocal Band, and he now returns for what promises to be an unforgettable evening of celebration.

Many of the songs that will be featured during the evening at Village Baptist are included on Phelps’ album “It Must Be Christmas,” which was released this fall. In addition to songs from this new Christmas album, the evening will also include exciting renditions of classics like “Angels We Have Heard On High,” “Go Tell It On The Mountain” and “Sleigh Bells,” along with Phelps’ new classics like “Fall On Your Knees,” “Christmas Rush” and “Anthem of the Lord.”

Phelps performs each classic like it has never been performed before, leaving each listener saying, “It must be Christmas!”

Village Baptist Church is located at 906 S McPherson Church Rd. WCLN – 105.7 FM is treating listeners to Christmas songs from Phelps along with exclusive contests during November.

VIP, artist circle and general admission tickets are on sale now. There are discounts for groups of four or more. Complete ticket and tour information is available by visiting or

Photo: David Phelps

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‘The Heart of Christmas Show’ celebrates 20 years of entertaining and giving

01coverUAC111418001 For the past 20 years, the Heart of Christmas Show has warmed hearts and spread joy, embracing everything good and fun about the holidays. The show takes place the weekend after Thanksgiving, and without fail, it puts the community in the Christmas spirit, celebrating everything about the season – from ugly Christmas sweaters to peace on Earth and baby Jesus. Saturday, Nov. 24, and Sunday, Nov. 25, head to the Crown for one of the community’s most heartfelt and inspired productions.

Keeping things fresh from year to year while maintaining all the audience favorites falls squarely on the shoulders of the show’s founder, Laura Stevens. Last year, she changed about half of the show. This year, she’s done some more tweaking. “I went about this year’s lineup by thinking by about what got us here,” she said. “I have brought back a few (numbers) from the past.

“I have listened to our sponsors, performers, parents and audiences and tried to get all the favorites in the show and still add some new elements.”

The format remains the same, though. The first half of the show is lively and lighthearted – think snowmen, gingerbread, Christmas trees and more. The second half embraces the true meaning of Christmas with traditional songs like “Silent Night,” “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Mary Did You Know?”

Among the new elements are what Stevens called a very funny ugly sweater Christmas song that she predicts will be a crowd favorite. She also added a 1950s medley. “That style is a lot of fun,” she said. “In the second half, in the manger scene, I am going for what I think might be one of the most beautiful manger scene moments you have ever seen – including angels. It is a big moment with a ton of meaning.

“If you’ve never seen HOC, you owe it to yourself to see what the chatter is about. There is something for everyone; there’s funny things and beautiful things. It is an awesome way to celebrate everything there is about Christmas.”

Adding to the impressive nature of this endeavor are the 30-plus performers, all between the ages of 5 and 18. That can lead people to believe it is a kids’ show, but Stevens has proven that’s not the case time and again with Broadway-type performances that leave audiences raving.

Stevens said, “The No. 1 comment I get is, ‘Wow, I cannot believe what I just saw.’ The next is, ‘It’s hard to believe that is all young people!’ And the third is ‘Shows at Myrtle Beach aren’t this good. We also bring in dancers from Elite Dance Center. Michelle Hurd, Callie Leechford and Victoria Armstrong have partnered with me for 15 years and bring an element of beauty to the show. They bring in a team of eight dancers every year, and they are amazing.”

Another change to the current production is areach back to the show’s early years. “I am going to bring back the theme song to the Heart of Christmas Show,’’ Stevens said, “to show all the outreach and what we have been able to do, as a tribute to the people who have been in it and to the good work of the outcome of the show.”

Stevens came up with the idea for HOC when Voices of the Heart, a local, all-girl Christian music group, won a high-profile national competition in Alabama. VOH still makes up a big part of the HOC Show. “I didn’t want it to go to their heads,” said Stevens. “They were on TV and were getting a lot of attention. I wanted their focus to be the correct one. We decided to put on a show and give all the money away. That first year we gave away $8,000. Now, we give away about $35,000 and raise about $25,000 for the schools – after a while that adds up to be a lot of money.”

HOC has given more than $750,000 to date, and it all stays in the community. Organizations that benefit include the Autism Society, Child Advocacy Center, Friends of Children, Make A Wish Foundation, AGAPE and Falcon Children’s Home.

With more than 300 sponsors footing the bill for production costs, Stevens said the money from each ticket sale goes right back out the door. “Our sponsors set money aside every year – in spite of things like hurricanes. And we have done what we said we would do,” Stevens said.

“The show is run by parents and volunteers. The parents are nurses, doctors, judges, teachers and more who work backstage and make that show happen. They believe in the common good of it. When we give the funds away, it is a good feeling to know we can do something to touch someone else’s life. This is not just a Christmas show, it a show with heart and a purpose and a mission to do good things for other children.”

General performances are Saturday, Nov. 24, at 1 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 25, at 3 p.m. Purchase tickets at The Crown Center Box Office, Hailey’s Bicycle World or

There are also several school shows. Call 910-978-1118 to learn more about the school performances.

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Revel in the Baroque ‘Royal Court of Brandenburg’

09FSO If the richness and ornate detail of the 17th and 18th centuries speak to you, if Bach and Vivaldi make your heart flutter and sooth your soul, Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “The Royal Court of Brandenburg” demands your presence for an exquisite evening of beloved masterpieces by Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi. Thursday, Nov. 15, the symphony will fill St. John’s Episcopal Church with the regal works of the masters.

The concert by FSO musicians will feature some of the Baroque era’s most well-loved pieces. In 1721, Bach presented the royal court with six Brandenburg Concertos. “We have performed other movements of Brandenburg,” said FSO President and CEO Christine Kastner. “It has been about three years (since that performance). There are six pieces. We did (Concertos)2 and 5 last time, and the churchwas full. We will do (Concertos) 3 and 4 this time.”

In “Concerto No. 4,” the concertino consists of a violin and two flutes, which are accompanied by a string quintet and harpsichord.

“Concerto No. 3” has nine solo strings – three violins, three violas and three celli – with bass and harpsichord accompaniment.

Bach’s concertos are still cherished around the world today. “It is interesting,” said Kastner. “We always get a few military people who come. And they say they were stationed in Germany and saw it there and wanted to see it here, too.”

Also included in the concert will be portions from Bach’s “Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor” as well as the bright and lively “Concerto for Two Trumpets” by Antonio Vivaldi.

Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Two Trumpets” features solos with orchestral accompaniment, unlike Bach’s pieces, which showcase the ensembles as a whole. Vivaldi’s piece shares the same three-movement construction as the Brandenburg examples, though. According to the program notes, “The slow inner movement is given short shrift in favor of the flashy outer movements, which provide ample opportunities for the trumpet soloists to showcase their skills.”

Kastner pointed out that the concerts at St. John’s are special. “Because it is smaller, there will be a lot of interaction,” she said. “St. John’s only seats about 300 people, so you have a much better view of musicians. It is a much more intimate environment.”

Another unique aspect of this concert is that FSO’s music director, Stefan Sanders, will be there. Kastner noted that in the past, the concerts at St. John’s were usually run by the musicians performing. “Stefan will be speaking about the music as well,” Kastner said.

The symphony’s mission to educate, entertain and inspire demands outreach to the community as well as affordability. Tickets for this event cost between $10 and $27. “Tickets to our events don’t cost more than $30,” said Kastner.

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Visit or call910-433-4690 for tickets and information. The website also provides a link to the program notes under the Season Concerts tab.

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Selwyn Birchwood and Big Ron Hunter sing the blues at Seabrook Auditorium

12Seabrook Individual Flyer Selwyn Birchwood and Big Ron Hunter 12X4.75FINAL Fayetteville State University’s Seabrook Performance Series presents “An Evening of Blues,” featuring Selwyn Birchwood with Big Ron Hunter. The show is set for Sunday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. at J. W. Seabrook Auditorium on the campus of FSU.

“The performance series was created to bring more interaction between the university and the community,” said Steve Mack, executive director of the Seabrook Performance Series. “We felt that doing these concerts would bring more people out and get some people over to campus that have never been to campus.”

Mack added the series organizers wanted to bring in a level of entertainment that they felt people could appreciate. The goal is that instead of driving to other cities to see a lot of these same artists, by bringing big names and great talent to Fayetteville, people would be able to enjoy high-quality entertainment close to home – and potentially bring people from out of town to come to the concerts.

Mack knew from the outset that variety would be key. With that in mind, the performance series offers a wide range of entertainment. “We’ve got jazz, blues, dance, magic, illusion  and we are trying to cater to all different tastes,” said Mack. “Everything may not be suitable to everyone, but there might be something in there that somebody really likes.”

This performance combines two unique takes on a classic genre. “Selwyn is an award-winning contemporary blues artist, and Big Ron Hunter is a traditional, well-known, established blues artist,” said Aaron Singleton, marketing consultant for the Seabrook Performance Series. “We just think the two will complement each other and attract different people into the art of blues as an audience.”

Selwyn Birchwood is an American blues guitarist who plays the electric guitar and the electric lap steel guitar. His album “Don’t Call No Ambulance” received the Blues Music Award and Living Blues Critic’s Award for Best Debut Album of 2014. He also won the 2015 Blues Blast Rising Star Award.

Big Ron Hunter is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is a big North Carolina favorite. He is a member of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. He has graced stages in France, the Lincoln Center, jazz festivals and more.

“We have a great slate of shows, and people should be on the lookout and come out and participate,” said Singleton. “It is a great bargain for the price and great entertainment at an awesome cost.”

Tickets cost $20 to $75. For more information or sponsorship opportunities, or to purchase tickets, call 910-672-1724 or visit

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Michael McDonald’s ‘Season of Peace, Holiday & Hits’ opens 83rd season of Community Concerts

01coverUAC110718001 With a career that spans more than 45 years, five-time Grammy- winner Michael McDonald is prolific. The appeal of the Missouri-born musician’s distinctive vocal style and honest delivery has proven to be ageless, both in terms of longevity and the collaborators he draws – from Aretha.Franklin to Grizzly Bear. Tuesday, Nov. 27, Community Concerts kicks of its 83rd season by bringing McDonald on his “Season of Peace, Holiday & Hits” tour to the Crown Theatre. This feel-good concert features McDonald’s rendition of beloved Christmas classics, new Christmas songs and hits from McDonald’s career.

McDonald started his professional journey by singing lead and backing vocals for Steely Dan’s touring band in the early- to mid-1970s. In 1975, he joined The Doobie Brothers, changing the iconic American rockers’ flavor with his interest in soul. He served as singer, keyboardist and songwriter on the Top 40 singles “Takin’ It To The Streets,” “It Keeps You Runnin’,” “Minute By Minute” and “What A Fool Believes.”

In 1982, after The Doobie Brothers’ initial dissolution, McDonald released his first solo studio album, “If That’s What It Takes.” This album featured one of his best-known hits, “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near).” He went on to release seven more solo albums between 1985-2008, and he delighted fans across the world by releasing another, “Wide Open,” last year.

In the midst of all of this, McDonald collaborated on writing and/or singing with various artists and groups. A small sample of these collaborators includes Carly Simon, Toto, Kenny Loggins, Ray Charles, Van Halen, James Ingram, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Vince Gill, Patti LaBelle and Aretha Franklin.

More recently, McDonald recorded a B-side of indie rocker group Grizzly Bear’s hit “While You Wait for the Others” and sang on Thundercat’s single “Show You the Way.”

With “Season of Peace, Holiday & Hits,” fans will enjoy standout songs from McDonald’s illustrious career and get into the holiday spirit with beautiful renditions of songs like “White Christmas/ Winter Wonderland” (feat. Jonny Lang), “Oh Holy Night,” “Christmas on the Bayou” and “Children Go Where I Send Thee” (feat. Twinkie Clark).

“You’re in for one of the best holiday and hits shows ever,” said Michael Fleishman, attractions director for Community Concerts. “And more stars are on the way!”

Community Concerts, the entity responsible for bringing McDonald to Fayetteville, is the city’s oldest arts organization. The volunteer-run nonprofit was founded in 1935 with the mission of enriching Fayetteville one concert at a time.

Each season, Community Concerts brings an array of world-class entertainment to Fayetteville at an affordable price. Community Concerts also created the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame to recognize those who have brought musical distinction to this community, and it awards college music scholarships to promising local high school students. Finally, it organizes local music showcases to build community and support artists’ exposure, and it provides free concerts to local groups such as the Vision Resource Center, Fayetteville Urban Ministry and The Sunshine Center.

Community Concerts’ 83rd season, which Mc- Donald opens with his performance at the Crown, is themed “Rock and More!”

“Last year, we had a season that was more heavy on the Broadway-esque shows,” Fleishman said. “This season, we wanted to go back to really heavy on a music and concert emphasis. This season, maybe more than every other, is hit after hit. You will know just about every song on the stage this season.

“This is a singalong, have fun season.” Following McDonald is Three Dog Night on Feb. 22; Choir of Man on Feb. 27; The O’Jays on March 15; and America on April 4.

“All of these shows have A+ fan reviews,” Fleishman said. He noted that there is one show this season that does carry the Broadway feel – Choir of Man on Feb. 27.

“We were selected among a few other markets to be part of the inaugural North American tour for this show, and it’s become a worldwide singing and dancing sensation,” he said. The set is a working bar that gets danced and jumped all over, and audience members are even invited to participate, he added. “Don’t let the name fool you; it has nothing to do with a choir.”

To purchase tickets to see McDonald Nov. 27, or to learn more about Community Concerts and the rest of its season, visit.           , go to the Crown Box Office, or call Fleishman at 910-323-1991.

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